LSU Arkanasas Football

LSU defensive back Jabril Cox returns an interception against Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Jabril Cox paused mid-sentence to settle himself.

"This is the most I've ever..." the former LSU linebacker began, stopping as he considered his being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. "I just can't even say it."

Questions from reporters continued.

Was he excited?

Of course.

Was he surprised that he fell to the fourth round?

Of course he was, too.

The 6-foot-3, 232-pound Cox had been a three-time FCS All-American at North Dakota State when he transferred to LSU as a graduate. Despite an overall struggle by LSU's defense in a shortened 10-game pandemic season, Cox was named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award while recording 58 tackles, 6½ tackles for loss, three interceptions and a sack.

Cox did strain his hamstring while training for LSU's pro day on March 31, but he held his own personal workout at the school's indoor football facility on Monday. His 4.54-second 40-yard dash and 34-inch vertical seemed to solidify the linebacker's chances at being selected in at least the second or third rounds on Friday.

"It was a surprise to me," Cox said. "I know my talents and what I can do, but I just stayed patient and continue to just have my faith in God. Whenever I was going to get picked up, I was going to give the team the best. I'm glad Dallas did that."

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Saturday was filled with a similar surprising theme for the five LSU players who were selected on the final day of the NFL draft, bringing the university's total number of picks to seven for the entire weekend.

Nose tackle Tyler Shelvin was selected No. 122 overall in the fourth round by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he'll reunite with former teammates Joe Burrow, Thaddeus Moss and Ja'Marr Chase, the star wide receiver the Bengals selected No. 5 overall on Thursday.

Racey McMath — a speedy prospect who became a starting wide receiver after starring on special teams — was drafted in the sixth round, No. 205 overall by the Tennessee Titans. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound New Orleans native was a former three-star recruit in LSU's 2017 signing class, which has now produced 10 total draft picks.

Fullback/tight end Tory Carter, who was also in that signing class, agreed to an undrafted free agent deal with the Tennessee Titans, a source told The Advocate.

Shelvin and safety JaCoby Stevens were a few of the gems of that signing class, back when it wouldn't have been likely to think McMath would be selected before Stevens, a former five-star recruit out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The Philadelphia Eagles picked Stevens later in the sixth round, No. 224 overall. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound hybrid defender told reporters Saturday that he's open to playing multiple positions on the Eagles defense, as he did in Baton Rouge. He brushed off position "labels" and joked that people could call him a defensive tackle so long as he was contributing to the franchise.

Stevens and his fellow LSU draft-eligible defensive teammates saw their draft stocks dip after the school's disappointing 5-5 title defense last season, when the Tigers defense surrendered the most yards and points per game in the program's history.

Kary Vincent Jr., a three-year starter at cornerback and nickel safety, was picked No. 237 overall in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound defensive back also was a sprinter on LSU's track team, and he opted out of the 2020 season.

Vincent is considered to be a player who could become a consistent contributor as a slot corner with the Broncos. After a year away from the game, he finds himself in the same position as the other LSU defenders drafted on Saturday: proving to his future franchise that he's valued more than the round in which he was selected.

"I was counted out by everybody," Vincent said in a personal live video shortly after getting drafted. "We did it. This is the start of something, bro, from where I started. Nowhere near the end."

Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.